Monday, 25 March 2013

It's essential the pro-life movement learns from its history

SPUC's chairman, Robin Haig, was for 15 years the chairman of the Association of Lawyers for the Defence of the Unborn (ALDU), a body which enjoyed a membership of around three thousand lawyers.

In his must-read ALDU blog, Robin has re-published a review of the Abortion Act 1967, first published in 2002, entitled A BRIEF HISTORY 1966 - 2003.

Robin writes in his introduction to the review:
"Killing unborn children is in itself unjust and could not be accepted in a civilised society. Abortion is seen as a means of effecting social change and, although it has certainly caused great changes in society, those changes have not been those which abortionists claimed would result. The actual changes have been the coarsening of society, the loss of respect for human beings at all stages of life and the promotion of the idea of a life not worth living."
All students of, commentators on - and campaigners against abortion can learn, or be reminded of, key facts about the British Abortion Act 1967, including:
  • The Abortion Act was introduced to Parliament as a private member's bill but " ... the Labour Government of the day, and especially the then Home Secretary Roy Jenkins (the late Lord Jenkins of Hillhead), bent over backwards to help the Bill, allowing extra time and giving support and advice ... ".
  • At the Bill's Second Reading on 22nd July 1966, the Bill's promoter Mr David Steel declared in the House of Commons:"We want to stamp out back-street abortions, but it is not the intention of the Promoters of the Bill to leave a wide open door for abortion on request”.
  • From May 1968 onwards, the number of abortions carried out rose immediately. In 1968 the total number of abortions notified to the Department of Health was 29,581. In 1969 it was 56,890, and in 1970 the total had risen to 88,587.
  • In July 1972 a Dr John Anthony James Smith was found guilty, after a 14-day trial, of performing an illegal abortion, a decision that was upheld on appeal. The facts of the case read like a horror story,but the sentence received by the abortionist at his trial at the Central Criminal Court in London was a mere 12-month prison sentence and a fine of £5,000.The prosecuting authorities not only held back from trying to bring prosecutions, but there also seemed to be a deliberate policy on the part of the Department of Health not to investigate abuses and contraventions of the 1967 Act.
  • During the 1970s and 1980s Bills intended to amend the Abortion Act were introduced by Mr. Norman St John Stevas, Mr Godman Irvine, Mr James White, Mr William Benyon, Mr John Corrie, Mr Nicholas Winterton, Mr Kenneth Hargreaves and perhaps most famously, in 1988, by Mr David Alton (now Lord Alton of Liverpool).
  • The [Alton] Bill was, in our opinion, fatally flawed from the outset and, probably because of this, became worse as time went by.
It's essential that the pro-life movement learns from its history - and especially from the mistakes made in the struggle to win protection for unborn children.  There's no better place to start learning than in the pages and posts of ALDU.

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